The Agriculture Department and the agencies under it will run 2,000 vegetable and fruit markets across the State from Thursday to Sunday in view of Onam.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will formally inaugurate the markets, christened Onasammrudhi 2020, on Wednesday evening via videoconference, Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar said.
By opening the markets, the department is ensuring better income to farmers in Kerala even as locally grown vegetables and fruits are made available to the public at affordable prices during Onam, he said.
Agricultural produce procured at a 10% higher price from farmers in the State will be made available to customers, through these markets, at 30% subsidised rates.
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)-certified vegetables and fruits procured from farmers at a 20% higher price will be sold at a 10% discount to consumers. These vegetables and fruits will be sold under the ‘Kerala Organic’ brand, Mr. Sunil Kumar said.
Vegetable and fruit kits costing ₹100 and ₹150 also will be available at these markets.
Of the 2,000 markets, 1,350 will be operated by the Agriculture Department, while the Kerala State Horticultural Products Development Corporation (Horticorp) and the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council, Keralam (VFPCK) will operate 500 and 150 outlets respectively.
Kerala is likely to be less dependent on neighbouring States for vegetables and fruits compared to previous years this Onam, given the enthusiasm for farming shown by the public under the ‘Onathinorumuram Pachhakkari’ initiative and the ‘Subhiksha Keralam’ food security programme, Mr. Sunil Kumar said.
The Onam markets will have a separate section for vegetables and fruits from other States, he said.
Vegetables from Vattavada and Kanthalloor region, GI-tagged products such as Marayur jaggery, and products of the Agricultural Department farms and other public sector institutions also will be available at the Onasammrudhi markets.
All 2,000 markets will adhere to the COVID-19 protocol as well as the green protocol. Horticorp and the VFPCK have also taken steps for the door delivery of vegetables via online platforms such as Swiggy, Zomato, and AM Needs.
The Agriculture Department is targeting vegetable production to the tune of 15 lakh tonnes in 2020, Mr. Sunil Kumar said. Production had risen from 6.5 lakh tonnes to 12.75 lakh tonnes. Area under vegetable cultivation has jumped from 46,000 ha in 2016 to 96,000 ha in 2020, he said.